The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943)

L: 6.5/10

M: 6.5/10

J: 6/10

Analysis from a dead cat locked in a box, perhaps not very dead at all:

The Little Prince is one of the most widely translated and best-selling books of all time. I had seen it on the peripherals of my life several times; I even remembering filling multiple orders of the book when I worked in a second-hand bookselling warehouse. I always viewed the book as a children’s book, merely judging it by its cover. It was described as “a children’s book for adults”, by the selector of this selection, J, and that seems to be an accurate generalization. If read at bedtime, it would have to span over the period of a week and would be received with many questions that I’m not sure I would be able to answer.

The Little Prince is about a stranded pilot who is happened across by a tiny alien. This tiny traveler has come from his tiny planet in search of something, not entirely sure what it is. His world, existing of a few volcanoes, some annoying bushes, and not much else, is all the little prince has known. As of recent, a rose has appeared, and his relationships have begun to trouble the prince, putting his whole tiny existence into question.

He travels across the universe, stopping at tiny planet after tiny planet, making contact with each sole inhabitor, and trying to learn everything he can along the way. He finally reaches Earth, and our narrator, the stranded pilot. The little prince speaks of his travels as the pilot attempts to fix his plane and understand the meaning of this odd little guy’s existence.

Every planet that the prince comes across is a different element of what he later describes as every being on Earth, learning that, in general, adults are odd. There are levels of uncertainty that arise in The Little Prince’s general theme, bringing me to thoughts of Schödinger’s Cat. I often think about this train of thought and paradoxes in general. I like to remove myself from reality and think about whether reality is real, and if anything we do actually makes any difference in the greater realm of things. Did his tiny new rose friend survive without him? Did the Little Prince die or make it back to his home planet? The story itself poses the statement, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” The unknown can both be scary and all that matters simultaneously. Both options can exist and be true. If we don’t know the answer, then the answer can always have the possibility to be true.

Ineligible rambling aside, I wish I had been read The Little Prince as a child. A parent can mold a story like this into a few different avenues. It’s open-ended enough to take what you want from it, and also, the themes are solid enough to inspire and spark imagination. 

Analysis from me:

I had no idea what to expect from this book. Unlike everyone else, I don’t remember having heard about this in my life. I feel a little foolish admitting it since it clearly is massively popular. The title of this book really brought to my mind an old black and white Shirley Temple movie, so I had assumed they were connected. Spoiler, they are not.
The book was lovely. The illustrations were so simple, yet to believe the story, they seem so well thought out and true labors of love. The artwork was every bit as charming as the book itself. It is everything you need in a children’s book while having lessons, realizations, and complex emotional pulls that are clearly meant for adult consumption. The intolerance towards grown-ups was, at this point in 2020, perhaps the greatest theme of the book. On every planet, there was some triggering characteristic that one could tie to someone they dislike or, in my case, to themselves. I was able to see a bit of myself in each negative attribute of the characters and truly felt a little chided but also challenged. Not sure what more you can ask of a book.

Analysis from the glass globe that doesn’t get to decide what it protects:

I’ve heard the story of The Little Prince whispered about or referenced for years. As a primary school teacher, notable children’s books tend to pop up on the radar pretty often. What drew me to choosing this book was that, from what I could tell, it was a book that could be appreciated in adulthood, not for its cuteness or tenderness, but because of the themes that it held that plagued even adults. I have a number of works that I admire, for this reason, ranging from Shel Silverstein’s The Garden to Kathy’s chapter in Sideways Stories from Wayside School, so an entire book was appealing to me. 

Overall I thought the book was endearing. I related most to the rose and fox, two creatures who demonstrated an impressive ability to not know how to show or ask for love. Despite the book being named after him, I felt like the Prince himself didn’t bring much to the story until the end. He was more of a facilitator or tour guide through a parade of interesting characters. The lesson he learns about the uniqueness of his rose is the most impressive character development he holds. I just kind of felt like he was the clown of a Cirque du Soleil, just helping us transition to others’ stories. I did like the thought that was put into the illustrations by having them drawn by an elderly man in childlike ability. It kind of reminded me of the second childishness that marked Shakespeare’s final stage of man. 

While this wasn’t my favorite recent read, I think the rose put it best by saying, “Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.” Perhaps our next piece will have had more time to develop and possibly win my heart. Next!

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